An Innovative Step in Tackling NYC’s Homelessness

Sustainability Problem: Rise in Homelessness  

New York’s state constitution says that “the aid, care and support of the needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state and by such of its subdivisions.”  And yet homelessness is a growing concern, increasing by 35% in the last 5 years.  A significant rise in rents (18%) and only a minimal increase in income (5%) have largely contributed to this growing concern.

The first step in eradicating homelessness is to provide people in this situation with proper housing.  Knowing that they have a roof over their heads can help these people focus their energy on the other much needed efforts to move out of homelessness.  In fact this is also the solution according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

Sustainability Technology: 3D printed modular units

Oslo and a NYC-based design firm Farmlab has proposed an innovative idea to tackle this problem.  They came up with Homed, which involves hexagonal-shaped, single-person units that came be attached onto empty walls on buildings – which the firm calls “vertical lots”.  This can be a reasonable solution to the overcrowded and transitional shelter problem that many homeless people face on a daily basis.

According to Farmlab, The prefabricated units would be attached to and be accessible via a scaffolding that would rise up alongside windowless, empty building walls, and could be easily disassembled, if needed. The units would come with an outer aluminium shell, and interior walls 3D printed from recycled polycarbonate. Smart-glass (electrochromic glass) windows would help to shade or light the unit’s interior as needed, while providing a view for inhabitants, in addition to providing advertising opportunities for sponsors.  Inhabitants can also design their spaces according to their preference and their furnishings can also be 3D printed using bioplastics.  Additional, bathing and communal units can also be added as needed.

Also considering that these are individual units, more people will be comfortable taking advantage of this type of housing opportunity, unlike in shelters where safety, security, and stealing are major concerns.  These units can also be assembled, expanded, and disassembled fairly quickly.  The utilization of scaffolding as super structure for the system is the crux of the solution, as it allows the city to use land that would be too difficult and expensive to develop. Homed puts these individuals on the right path to overcome their hardship and does so by providing them with a supportive and improved life.

Low income housing is needed, but lack of land and increased land costs are major hurdles to overcome for the city.  Currently NYC’s Dept. of Homeless Service has an operating budget of $955.3M, clearly showing the depth of the city’s financial burden in regards to homelessness.  Throwing more money at the problem is not the answer, but innovative solutions in addition to helpful/alternative policies can do much to help the homeless more effectively and efficiently.

“New York has record numbers of homeless people” The Economist, 3/23/2017,
“3D printed modular units for the homeless would use under-utilized vertical walls” TreeHugger, Kimberly Mok, 11/22//17,
“State of Homelessness 2017 Rejecting Low Expectations: Housing is the Answer”, Colalition for the Homeless, March 2017,


  • Homeless people
  • NGOs dedicated to helping the homeless
  • City officials looking to reduce homelessness
  • NYC residents

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Build out these 3D pods and test their safety and quality before any use.

Then engage city officials by showcasing the benefits of such a housing project.  Ask them to provide a test area to assemble these units.

Encourage discussions with the Dept. of Homeless Service to have a group of people test out this new housing development and ask them to provide feedback.

Upon proven success, seek support to implement this on a larger scale.  Continue the monitoring and feedback mechanism to ensure that all needs and concerns are met.

By: Bhoomi Shah UNI: brs2147


Comment on “Floating Cities” by VishantKothari

The idea is to build these communities in safe/sheltered waters and provide aquaculture farms, healthcare, medical research facilities, and sustainable energy powerhouses.  The first city would be built on a network of 11 rectangular and five-sided platforms so the city could be rearranged according to its inhabitants’ needs like a floating jigsaw.  A feasibility report by Dutch engineering firm Deltasync says the square and pentagon platforms would measure 164ft (50metres) in length and they would have 164 ft-tall (50 metre) sides to protect buildings and residents.

I think this is a great solution to the planet’s climate change problem.  Water is going to be a major concern for many at risk areas (i.e. the Polynesian islands) when it comes to housing and if we can work with this element rather than fight it, survival is more likely.


The World’s Saviors, SUPERCHARGED Plants!

Sustainability Problem: Global Warming

CO2 is one of the largest contributors to global warming, representing over two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions yearly.  Industrialization and our penchant for over-consumption has drastically increased the output of this gas.  Global warming, does and will continue to wreak havoc on our ecosystems.  The rising of sea levels, desertification, severe weather, and increase in ocean acidity, negatively impact the life forms on our planet.

As we continue burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, our ability to balance out the levels of carbon in the atmosphere drops considerably.   The planet’s carbon filtration system (i.e. plants and soil) which can convert CO2 into oxygen, can’t keep up with the rate of human CO2 production.  But the major question is, what can we do to reduce current carbon emissions?

Sustainability Technology: Supercharged Plants

While many people, companies, and countries are looking to reduce their CO2 footprint, the methods/plans in place to do so are more long-term.  Currently, the Earth’s natural filtration system, plants, only suck up about 25% of our carbon emissions to produce their own fuel during photosynthesis.  But unfortunately, it’s a slow and inefficient process.  However, with the help of science, this natural method can be enhanced dramatically to bring forth a more effective and immediate solution to such a pressing problem.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany have found a way to supercharge plants to increase their CO2 absorbing rate.  The team, led by Tobias Erb, identified 17 enzymes from nine different organisms.  They re-engineered some of them to produce a new 11-step system that effectively recreates and enhances the Calvin Cycle.  Plants that had their biology synthetically altered actually acquired the ability to consume carbon at a much higher rate than their ordinary counterparts.

To put things into perspective, the controlled plant group consumed about 5-10 molecules of CO2 per second, while the test group could consume about 80 molecules per second!  This increase in plant efficiency can do wonders at combating our climate change problem and that too in a less invasive manner.  A by-product of this effective photosynthesis process, is that plants will also grow faster, which can be a boon for farmers and more importantly a alternative solution to the world’s food demand.

While this technology has only been tested in labs, a positive real-world test result can be the breakthrough we all have been looking for.  If this technology proves to be successful, it can be scaled up and applied in a multitude of places.

“Plants could be supercharged to absorb more carbon dioxide” TreeHugger, Megan Treacy, 3/06/2017,
 “Scientists Have Developed a Synthetic Way to Absorb CO2 That’s Way Faster Than Plants” Science Alert, Peter Dockrill, 11/18/2016,


  • All citizens of the planet
  • City officials looking to reduce CO2 within their respective cities
  • Companies wanting to curb their carbon footprint
  • Farmer’s looking to boost their crop yields

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Introduce this synthetic biology in plants outside the lab.  Run tests on various forms of plant life, to determine which species thrive on and successfully perform with the new enhanced Calvin Cycle process.

Put together studies of findings to share with the scientific/business/government groups.  Do a pilot program with each group so see how this bio-engineering technology performs in different environments.

Upon proven success, seek support to implement this it in areas of major concern (i.e. cities, manufacturing plants, waste processing plants, farmlands, etc.).  Continue the monitoring and feedback mechanism to ensure that the process doesn’t break down or lose efficiency.

By: Bhoomi Shah UNI: brs2147


Comment on “Plastic Bottle Concrete” by MARIGSKO

The up-cycling plastic and mixing it with cement to form concrete, is a very innovative way to kill three birds with one stone: (1) reduces plastic waste from landfills and oceans, (2) decreases the amount of cement needed – reducing CO2 emissions,  and (3) makes the concrete stronger.  Plastic, something that takes over 400 years to degrade, can be used in a better more effective way.  I think it’s a great idea if it can be adopted on a global scale.

BIOPLASTICS….Now We Can Have our Cake and Eat it Too!

Sustainability Problem: Unmitigated Growth of Plastic Waste

Plastic waste is the single largest problem the world faces today, and yet there is no stopping the demand for this convenient, durable, and cheap material.  We’ve already produced 8.3 MM metric tons of plastic since 1950s, and that number is projected to increase to 26 MM metric tons by 2050 if we don’t alter our consumption patterns.

It takes over 400 years for plastic to degrade, making it necessary for us to re-use and recycle what we already have.  But the reality is that less than 9% of plastics have actually been recycled, which means that most end in landfills and eventually into our oceans.  There are many drawbacks in using this material, from increased use of fossil fuels, the leaching of toxins in our water and food supply, to increasing health problems for all life forms.

Sustainability Technology: Bioplastics

It’s difficult to alter human behavior and simply forcing people to stop using plastic won’t fix the overarching problem.  There is no other material in the world which can provide all the benefits of plastic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be created.  The Full Cycle Bioplastics company has developed technology that uses organic waste to make their version of bioplastics.

They start by accumulating organic waste which is broken down to act as feed-stock for PHA (polyesters produced in nature).  The organic waste is first put into controlled fermentation tanks, after which they are then moved to environmentally controlled production tanks.  Here, naturally occurring bacteria consumes the waste and eventually converts it into PHA.  Finally, upon completion, the PHA is harvested, dried, and processed into a finished resin that can be molded for customized use (i.e. bags, containers, utensils, water bottles, etc.).  And because there are no GMOs used in the production process nor any need to cultivate crops, production costs drop significantly.  This alone is a fantastic development, since the major drawback to bioplastics is the production related expense.

The company produces true compostable plastic material, which can be made from food waste, dirty paper/cardboard, or agriculture products.  Because the raw materials are all organic, there is no toxicity and is safe to discard.  In fact, if it finds its way to the ocean, it can actually act as fish or bacteria food!

The technology once refined can be scalable and serve as a secondary revenue stream for cities.  Residents and food establishments routinely throw away organic waste.  But if they are incentivized to collect and sell this it instead, then we not only have a solution to the plastic problem, but also a viable solution to the food waste problem…black is certainly the new gold in this case!  With a little bit of ingenuity and a rock-solid framework, this technology can very likely be the world’s saving grace.

In the next 30 years, we’ll make four times more plastic waste than we ever have” Science, Giorgia Guglielmi, 7/19/2017,
“Twin brothers convert organic waste into truly biodegradable plastic” Inhabitat, Lacy Cooke, 10/27/2017,


  • Farmers & Food Processors to sell their organic waste
  • Waste Haulers & Compost Facilities to accumulate organic waste
  • Biorefineries for scaling PHA production
  • Cities looking to reduce their ecological footprint
  • Consumers wanting a better alternative for plastic without comprising use

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Engage with food & beverage manufacturing companies by showcasing the quality of PHA.  Conduct presentations and hold on-site visits to allow company official to familiarize themselves with the product.  Upon successful pilot tests, reach out to larger companies with results in hand.

Work with food processing companies and restaurants to encourage organic waste collection.  The company can acquire the needed raw material for a reasonable cost, while the businesses are offered a secondary revenue stream AND save on waste removal costs.

Speak to city officials to showcase the potential for this innovation on both an environmental and financial scale.  Seek their support to push out this technology in a decentralized fashion, encouraging a closed loop cycle between organic waste and PHA production.

Ensure that the company can meet implementation demands in a seamless fashion and keep up communication with clients.  Feedback communication is imperative especially when solidifying quality control measures.

By: Bhoomi Shah, UNI: brs2147



This is great solution to extremely pressing problems in 3rd world countries.  This system captures solar energy through photovoltaic panels that converted into electricity through an internal 140 kwh battery.  It treats water through a graphene-based filtering process and can deliver 5,000 liters of safe drinking water daily.  It also serves as a charging station for devices and offers internet service for an 800 mile radius.  Talk about a WIN-WIN-WIN!  Tests have already been completed in Ghana and the company is looking at Nigeria and Sudan as their second test country.

Instantly Rechargeable Batteries…a Game-changer for Electric Vehicles!

Sustainability Problem: Fossil Fuels & Dirty Energy

While green energy is on the forefront of the sustainable movement, the reality is that fossil fuels – petroleum, natural gas, coal – make up the bulk of our energy consumption in the U.S. (~81.5% in 2015).  A fifth of which alone comes from the powering of our vehicles – cars & trucks.

It’s estimated by the EIA that total fossil fuel use will only drop by an additional 5% by 2040.  If this trend holds true, our carbon emissions will continue to heat up the planet and further escalate climate change, having detrimental impacts on human life and biodiversity.

Sustainability Technology: Instant Rechargeable Battery for Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles are a great alternative to the gas-guzzling cars of today.  But, there is one major hurdle that prevents many individuals from entering this type of car market…charging infrastructure.  That also includes the amount of time it would normally take for a car to be fully charged for use.

Luckily, Purdue University has come to the rescue with its instantly rechargeable batteries, IFBattery.  According to researchers at Purdue, these batteries can be “recharged in roughly the same amount of time it would take to fill a car tank with gas”.

Researchers opted to use a flow battery system, in which the membranes of a battery are removed to increase its life/recharge cycles while reducing costs.  Furthermore, the removal of battery membranes decreases the chances of fires related to membrane fouling which helps increase vehicle safety measures.

The process of recharging is very simple and extremely cost effective as current fossil fuel infrastructure can be leveraged.  The key is fluid electrolytes which have the capability to re-energize spent battery fluids.  Drivers can drop off their spent battery fluids which can be collected in bulk and then taken away to be re-charged at any green energy plants (solar, hydroelectric, and wind).  Essentially, today’s petroleum refiners will become tomorrow’s electrolyte refiners.  This innovative technology turns the entire process of transportation energy in a closed loop/sustainable system.

Plus, the beauty of this technology is that, no additional infrastructures need to be developed!  The gas fueling stations we have today can be re-fitted to dispense a water and ethanol/methanol solution instead of petroleum.  Purdue’s researchers believe that their innovation “could be nearly ‘drop-in’ ready for most of the underground piping system, rail and truck delivery system, gas stations and refineries.”

Because this whole vehicle re-powering process is simply a derivative to the one we are used to today, the whole electric vehicle market is less likely face high entry barriers.  And its adoption helps us become more earth friendly, without drastically alternating our lifestyles.

“Fossil fuels still dominate U.S. energy consumption despite recent market share decline”, EIA – Today in Energy, 7/1/2016,
 “Car Emissions and Global Warming” Union of Concerned Scientists,
 “Instantly rechargeable battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars”, Inhabitat, 6/7/2017,


  • Electric Vehicle companies looking to increase market share
  • Green energy plant owners
  • Gas station owners who don’t want to be left behind when clean energy consumption becomes the norm
  • Consumers who want to buy electric vehicles and are environmentally conscious of their transportation energy consumption

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Encourage electric car companies to implement this kind of battery into their vehicles.  Educate them on the cost-benefit of embracing this piece of technology.

Work with gas station owners to understand their current supply chain and showcase how the new supply chain for the instant rechargeable battery can be seamlessly overlaid without a massive infrastructure overhaul.

Engage one company in each sector (vehicle manufacturing, clean energy production, and energy distributors) to complete a pilot program to test out the rechargeable battery capabilities from start to finish.  After successful implementation, put together a case study to further educate the stakeholders on the benefits of this technology.

By: Bhoomi Shah, UNI: brs2147

Comment on “Circular Mushroom based products” by MK3883

This is a novel solution to a very serious plastic waste problem.  It provides companies with the much desired and preferred lightweight packaging option, but does so at a lower cost (hopefully) and helps decrease a company’s environmental footprint (including upstream & downstream operations).  Plus since the company uses crop waste, no additional land will be needed to acquire the raw materials needed.

Let’s Cool Down to Power Up!

Sustainability Problem: Energy

According to the EIA, the world will see a 48% increase in energy consumption by 2040!  Our reliance on fossil fuels must be mitigated by introducing different and cleaner for of energy.  Even though, the growth rate is higher among renewables, most of the energy market share (3 quarters) is still compromised of dirty energy.  We must take advantage of all sound forms of renewable energy to reduce our GHG footprint and ensure a more promising & stable future.

Sustainability Technology: Be Cool Air-conditioning Unit That Generates Electricity

Be Power Tech, a start-up company in Florida, has developed a unique piece of technology which not only does the job of a traditional air-conditioner, but also doubles as an electricity generator.  It runs on natural gas which helps reduce reliance on the centralized power grid especially during peak usage.  And to boot, it can also be used as a heating unit eliminating the need for a boiler.

This air-conditioning system eliminates the use of a conventional compressor and instead opts for an “innovative desiccant-enhanced evaporative cooler”.  Which means that the system uses water evaporation and not a refrigerant to achieve colder temperatures within buildings.  The hot dry air is cooled by the water and returned as cold and humid air.

Of course, since evaporative cooling requires that the outside air be hot and dry, areas with high humidity are effectively ruled out as potential markets.  To avoid this drawback, the system uses a desiccant (a substance that induces or sustains dryness) to suck water out of the air before it begins its cooling process.

Next step is removal of the water to dry out the desiccant. This is accomplished by taking the waste heat generated by a natural gas fuel cell which evaporates the water and in doing so it strips electrons from the hydrocarbon gas converting them into electricity.  What can’t be converted, is expelled as heat; however, the technology converts 50% of the incoming chemical energy into electricity which can be used to power the building.

Because this technology is easy to install, building owners are likely be more open to its adoption.  Less energy usage, lower costs for natural gas, and leveraging the electricity benefits from this technology are huge monetary and high efficiency initiatives for building owners.

“EIA projects 48% increase in world energy consumption by 2040.”. EIA – Today in Energy, 5/12/2016,
“The Air Conditioner That Makes Electricity”, Scientific American, 7/19/2016


  • Building Owners looking for cost-effective solutions as energy prices increase
  • Cities wanting to meet their low-energy goals
  • Individual consumers who are environmentally and financially conscious of their household energy consumption

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Reach out to building owners to not only demonstrate the technology, but also provide an ROI which further depicts the cost benefit of installing and running this system versus the traditional one.

Engage with city officials to showcase the potential for this innovation on both an environmental and financial scale.  Additionally, seek their support to push out this product to building owners within the city boundaries.

Ensure that the company can meet implementation demands in a seamless fashion and keep up communication with clients.  Feedback communication is imperative especially when involving the implementation of electrical energy from a secondary source.

By: Bhoomi Shah, UNI: brs2147


Comment on “A Building Itself Can Be a Power Plant by Waste Generated Tech” by LY242

Exquisite idea, as I’m in love with any closed-loop system.  On a more practical viewpoint, a significant amount of energy, transportation, and costs are saved when waste is taken care of at site.  Cities like NY, which are looking to meet their 2030 green goals are likely to bite at this theoretically efficient technology.

AI and the Future of Waste Management

Sustainability Problem: Waste

The EPA estimated that Americans produced more than 254 million tons of waste in just 2013 alone.  Our current solutions in tackling this problem have been lackluster to say the least.  We either dump this waste into our 2000 active landfills, ship it to China, or the best option thus far…we recycle.  While recycling is a huge player in curbing landfill waste (87 million tons diverted in 2013), it’s important to note that it is a business.  If operating costs are too high for waste management companies, then the financial incentive to keep running these facilities drops, putting us right back to our dirty, rotten, methane producing square one.

Sustainability Technology: Artificial Intelligence Waste Sorter (ZenRobotics)

The only way to increase efficiency within the recycling facilities is to take advantage of smart technology, which means we need robots.  And not just any old robots, but ones that utilize artificial intelligence to sort through the variety of waste we produce.

The ZenRobotics Recycler is the world’s first AI powered robotics waste sorting system.  The beauty of this technology is that it’s faster, more flexible, and thus cost-efficient.  The machine has two arms (more can be added) and can pick up 4,000 pieces of waste per hour.  It works around the clock and provides 98% accuracy in sorting which makes it more reliable than its human colleague.

It can accomplish such a gargantuan task thanks to accurate sensors and smart software.  These two characteristics bring tremendous flexibility to the machine, allowing it to sort through various shapes/size, metals, different types of woods/minerals, plastics, and cardboard.  Additionally, it can be trained to identify new types of waste which is a huge plus especially when the market demand for certain materials is high.

Expenses are mitigated since the machine requires less energy, low levels of pre-processing, and little maintenance to function.  Labor, incineration, and landfill costs also drop, allowing the company to earn more profits which can be funneled into additional effective/efficient investments.  It also comes with measuring and monitoring capabilities which give companies the ability control and optimize their production.  Finally, since this innovation is scalable, it’s possible to install the machine closer to the source, reducing transportation time and costs.

Another plus is that due to its single-stream process, city residents will no longer need to pre-sort their recyclables and cities will be able to handle the commingled trash in an easier fashion.  It’s likely that recycling participation rates will go up if less efforts are required by city residents.

“These Maps Show How Many Landfills There Are In The U.S.” Fast Company, 8/19/2016,
“Municipal Solid Waste” EPA, 3/29/2016 –
 Zenrobotics – Company website  –


  • Waste management facilities looking for cost-effective solutions
  • Cities that want to meet their eco-goals and reduce waste disposal costs
  • Large companies striving to have zero-waste production facilities
  • Consumers who want to decrease their environmental footprint

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Bring awareness and demonstrate the technology to potential waste management companies by leveraging real use cases of ZenRobotics from around the world (Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, US).

Engage with civic officials to showcase the potential for this innovation and provide a cost-benefit analysis to depict not only the environmental advantages but also the financial benefits for their city.

Ensure that the company can meet implementation demands in a seamless fashion and keep up communication with clients so feedback is received in a timely manner, allowing for software/hardware adjustments to be made fairly quickly.

Comment on the Extinguish Fire with Low Frequency Sound Waves blog:

What a great idea!  This technology can also be used by homeowners/renters to fight small house fires before they become very destructive/uncontrollable.  Financial losses will be significantly mitigated as fires can be constrained fairly quickly.  Water damage/ water use will also decrease since the resource will no longer be the only option to combat fires.  Should this innovation prove its worth and can be successfully commercialized, there are a plethora of benefits to many different stakeholders apart from the obvious ones.

Reconnecting with our Food Chain Through Smart Supermarkets

Sustainability Problem: Lack of Food Transparency

Few people today know where and how their food is produced, its journey, and what the overall life cycle is of the product.  This disconnect can cause people to make uninformed decisions at the supermarket, leading to poor health and an unsustainable lifestyle.

Sustainability Technology: Supermarket of the Future

To combat this opaqueness, Coop Italia (Italy’s largest supermarket chain), worked with Accenture and Avanade to develop a futuristic supermarket that enhances the food purchasing process through a more welcoming, innovative, and informative shopping experience.

Their flagship store in Milan uses interactive food displays and smart shelves to provide a more customized and immersive shopping process.  Coop Italia’s interactive tables display information pertaining to a product’s nutritional facts, origin, allergen/pesticide levels, disposal instructions, its journey and overall carbon footprint using augmented reality and sensors.  All shoppers have to do is hold up the item of interest to a reflective/smart screen.  Vertical shelving allows for easy product navigation and discovery, while enhanced labels provide a deeper insight into each product.  Real-Time Data Visualization screens add an extra layer to the supermarket and shopper relationship by displaying company values, daily sales/promotions, top selling products by category, and cooking suggestions.

Unlike traditional supermarkets, the products are organized and situated together by similar ingredients (i.e. canned tomatoes can be found next to fresh tomatoes); and shelves are shorter, providing the store with a more community-like feel, similar to the much-loved open-air/farmer’s markets of today.  These design aspects move away from the overwhelming and disconnecting feel of traditional supermarkets and instead provide a warm and enjoyable atmosphere.

There are many upsides to such a novel supermarket.  In providing a holistic view of products, end-users can factor both the social and environmental costs to the traditional price and quality qualifiers.  Understanding the true cost of a product allows for a more informed purchasing decision.  Additionally, consumer’s buying choices can directly impact the way food is farmed, processed, and delivered; forcing all companies within a supermarket’s value chain to engage in more sustainable practices to stay relevant and provide increasing value.  Finally, this dynamic two-way communication helps turn a once tedious chore (grocery shopping) into a more fulfilling and fun experience!

“Supermarket of the Future Opens its Doors, Coop Italia and Accenture Reinvent the Grocery Shopping Experience”  Accenture, 12/6/2016,
“An MIT professor designed this supermarket of the future — take a look inside”  Business Insider, 1/11/2017, Leanna Garfield


  • Consumers looking to eat healthy and reduce their impact on the planet
  • Supermarkets wanting to enhance customer engagement and their ESG practices
  • Farmers because they will have to disclose their farming and transporting practices
  • Food companies because they will be required to disclose the processing, packaging, and transportation data of their products
  • Shareholders of the supermarket since they will have to assess the ROI for making the transition to becoming “smarter”

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Bring awareness (marketing campaigns, social media) about the smart supermarket by communicating its potential to both traditional supermarkets and end-users.

Showcase proto-types in different countries (done in Milan’s 2015 World Expo) which can help to increase the buzz and interest about this innovation.

Begin and continue to bring farmer’s and companies on board so product information can be provided in a more seamless/real-time fashion.

Select cities/areas for testing to work through any technology/operational hurdles, (current test city is Milan).

Use feedback from initial customer reactions to enhance and/or customize the user experience.

By: Bhoomi Shah  , Columbia UNI: brs2147

In response to Gillian Mollod’s Designer Davorin Mesari turns city residents into farmers blogpost:


I love this idea! Using this technology people can pick only as much as they need for their meal, resulting in less food waste (which is usually compromised mainly of fruits and vegetables) and less need for refrigeration storage. And considering that more people are now living in an urban environment, this is a great way to help people connect/reconnect with the joy and benefits of gardening. Finally, since each container consists of 16 pods, it provides customization capabilities that allow individuals to grow a nice selection of their own preferred fruits/veggies.



Composting with Style

Sustainability Problem: Food Waste

The US discards ~40% of its food supply every year!  While this is a clear waste of money, natural resources (water, energy, land) and time, there is another detrimental consequence to this issue.  The thrown-out organic waste eventually ends up in landfills where toxic methane gas (CH4) is released as the food breaks down among non-biodegradable trash, adding to global warming crisis.

Sustainability Technology: Whirlpool’s Zera Food Recycler – Quicker & Convenient Composting

Whirlpool has developed a unique appliance called the Zera Food Recycler, which is basically a modern composting machine.  It has the capability to process 8 lbs. of food/food scraps into 2 lbs. of fertilizer within just 24 hours.

Zera uses a rotating, cylindrical blade which breaks the food down bringing forth valuable nutrients for plat growth, its heating and drying functions help remove access moisture, and coconut husks and baking soda are used at the end to thicken the mixture while also reducing the acidity of the end-product.

The homemade fertilizer can be used in home gardens and/or collected by the city/communities to distribute to local farms/city parks/gardens etc.  A point of note is that while the fertilizer is not 100% compost material, it finishes up the composting process after spending 3-4 weeks outside.

The beauty of this appliance is that many issues with traditional composting (i.e. processing time, sorting organic material, and more importantly odors) are virtually non-existent.  It can accommodate ~95% of all organic food waste including meat.  And most importantly it provides the convenience of not having to collect and store organic waste, which is a huge positive factor in convincing consumers to close the food loop.

“Whirlpool wants you to trash your old composting methods and buy a fancy food recycler” Popular Science, 3/6/2017, Eleanor Cummins
“This new gadget promises to transform food scraps into fertilizer in 24 hours” Treehugger, 11/16/2016, Derek Markham 
“A NEW NRDC REPORT SHOWS THAT AMERICA WASTES 40% OF ITS FOOD” Sustainable America, 10/1/2012, Nicole Rogers


  • All global/domestic consumers looking to reduce their impact on the planet
  • Gardeners and Farmers looking to increase the health of their soil
  • Civic governments looking to drastically reduce waste transportation costs
  • Communities that are strengthened through a single social/environmental goal

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Bring awareness to the target consumers about the consequences of food waste through media and marketing outlets, showing them the importance and benefits of curbing organic refuse and closing the food loop.

Deploy the appliance in select cities/areas for consumer testing, before a full nationwide distribution is attempted (Current test cities are Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco).

Use feedback from initial customer reactions to enhance and/or customize the product for efficient household use, and ultimately reduce the purchasing cost to make it accessible to more consumers.

By: Bhoomi Shah  , Columbia UNI: brs2147


In response to Riya’s Transparent Solar Spray Transforms Windows into Watts post:

In addition to increasing the surface area for solar energy absorption, this technology also enhances the efficiency of current silicon solar panels. The film can be sprayed directly on top of an existing silicon solar cell, and since utilizes the blue and green part of the sunlight better than silicon, it theoretically improves the solar cell’s energy production by an additional 5%.